US health authorities want to make COVID-19 shots comparable to yearly flu shots.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration proposed a more straightforward strategy for upcoming vaccine campaigns, allowing the majority of adults and kids to receive a shot once a year to safeguard against the evolving virus.
As a result, Americans wouldn’t need to keep track of their vaccination history or the time since their last booster dose.
The plan comes at a time when selling boosters is challenging. Only 16% of eligible individuals had received the most recent boosters approved in August, despite more than 80% of Americans receiving at least one vaccination shot.
At a meeting on Thursday, the FDA will solicit input from its panel of independent vaccination experts.
When making decisions about upcoming vaccine requirements for vaccine manufacturers, the government must consider their recommendations.
Scientists at the FDA claim in documents that many Americans now have “sufficient preexisting immunity” to the coronavirus due to vaccination, infection, or a combination of both.
According to the government, that defense baseline should be sufficient to transition to an annual booster against the most recent strains in circulation and make COVID-19 vaccines more similar to the yearly flu shot.
A two-dose combination might be required to protect highly young children and individuals with compromised immune systems, vaccine manufacturers and FDA experts would research vaccination, illness rates, and other data to decide who should receive a single shot versus a two-dose series.
FDA will also seek input on changing all vaccines to target the same strains. Making the doses interchangeable would eliminate the current complex system of initial vaccines and boosters.
The primary line of vaccines, developed by Pfizer and Moderna, target the strain of the virus that initially surfaced in 2020 and spread fast over the world.
Targeting omicron relatives that previously dominated was another modification to the upgraded boosters deployed last fall.
According to the FDA’s proposal, the government, outside consultants, and manufacturers would select the strains to target each year by the early summer, giving manufacturers several months to make and introduce revised doses before the fall.
This method has almost always been used to choose the strains.
According to FDA experts, moving to an annual timetable would make it simpler to market future vaccine programs, which might eventually increase immunization rates across the country.
No matter the variation, the initial two-dose COVID shots have protected against fatal illness and severe sickness, although protection against mild infection dwindles.
Whether the most recent boosters considerably improved safety, particularly for younger, healthier Americans, is still debatable among experts.